A further word on Risk
Last Sunday we talked about the blind man in John chapter 9. We talked about the risks he took and the freedom he found because of it. I showed you a picture like the one below and talked about how each risky move we make for the cause of the kingdom is also a step toward our own freedom. As Yoda might say, “you can be safe or free, there is no safe AND free.” Okay, maybe that’s a bit of license with my favorite Muppet, but the fact remains. If you want to experience your freedom in Christ, you gotta work to get there.
It is a safe risk because you’re putting all your faith in the King of the Universe, we call him Jesus.
Our Slogan at BCC is “Be Loved, Go Deeper, Live it Out.” We believe that’s what we are called to do as a community. Today I got into a few conversations that made me want to speak a little further on that point.
I want to suggest four specific risks that we as a community can take that will help us grow the kingdom by “Going Deeper” and “Living it Out.”
1) Move Up
Someone recently told me that they walked into our service just a few minutes late. Because of the size and layout of the room we worship in, it looked like there was nowhere to sit. So they walked forward a few rows and discovered legions of empty chairs on the front four or five rows.
Imagine if this person had been a first time guest. What might that feel like? You are taking a risk yourself. You are attending a worship service you are not familiar with. You may not know anyone there. You may want to slip in quietly just to observe in order to “test the waters.” Instead, you are forced to walk through a room of people to sit IN FRONT of them.
If we really believe that risk helps us to grow further toward freedom in Christ, there are two things we need to keep in mind. First, we might risk giving up our comfortable back row seats. Second, we would also want to help others take risks themselves. Why would we force others to take greater risks so that we don’t have to? As a congregation, let’s take some risks and move forward on Sundays.
2) Park Further Away
In a similar way let’s consider potential guests who are driving over to join us on a Sunday morning. If all the nearest parking spots are taken, its certainly a lot easier to decide to go to brunch instead.
I know there are some folks in our congregation who need the closer parking for a variety of reasons. So I am not talking to you if you need to park closer to the door. But some of us just park nearer because we are only thinking of our own walk to the building. That’s normal. But consider Paul’s instructions “Each of you should look not to his own interests, but in humility consider others better than yourselves.”
Let’s try to consider the needs of others when we park our cars on Sundays.
3) Greet People
You might know that we have a team of greeters each week. It is their job to make people feel welcome and help if guests need any assistance. Where is childcare? What time does the service start? Where is the coffee? These are normal and necessary things. But sometimes we sit next to people in worship that we have never met. It can be risky to approach them and initiate a conversation.
What if they don’t like me? What if they ask me something I don’t know? What if I don’t know what to say and there is one of those awkward lulls in the conversation?
Yes, it is risky. I think so too. But here’s a question: do you believe risk will help you and others grow closer to freedom in Christ?
If you do, then take the risk and say hello to someone sitting near you. Ask them how long they’ve been attending BCC, ask them where they’re from. More and more often we meet people in Bismarck that are relatively new to the community. This is a great way to connect to people. Let them tell you about where they are from and why they came here. You might even find a way you can help them out!
4) Invite People
Invite people to church, invite people to small groups, invite people to lunch, invite people into your life.
This may mean you need to commit to something yourself. If you are not in a small group, consider starting or joining one and ask someone to join you.
Find out ways you can serve in some of the volunteer opportunities in church and ask someone to join you.
Serve in the community and ask someone to join you.
A word in closing
All of these things are terribly risky. They are scary, and you might even fail. So if you are comfortable, and don’t want to change, that’s ok. Jesus doesn’t love you any more or less whether you risk or not. We are accepted fully and only on the basis of Christ. Of course, usually that reality will shape the way we live.
So I hope you will consider taking some risks in these four areas. If you do, you will grow. And the good news is, other people might too. Imagine what a few small risks can do to influence the world around you and serve the purposes of the Kingdom we profess allegiance to.